NAYPYITAW: Former world champion Joko Suprianto had a huge smile on his face after one of his future stars – Wisnu Yuli Prasetyo – made the semi-finals of the men’s singles in the SEA Games badminton competition.
And Joko, the 1993 men’s singles world champion, said that there are more players “knocking vigorously on the door of stardom” ready to replace their king of badminton – the great Taufik Hidayat.
“I’m delighted to see Wisnu’s breakthrough here. He is one of the many trying to fill the vacant spot,” said the country’s singles coach.
“Like Malaysia, we are also trying to find new stars and I’m happy to say that Indonesia does not lack talents.
“I can safely say that there are about 20 good players outside of the national team, jostling and fighting to make the national team. We can accommodate only 15 in the national team.
“There is keen competition among the back-up shuttlers because of our good club system. The rivalry among the clubs is the reason badminton is thriving.”
On Wisnu’s strength as a player after his 21-10, 21-15 win over Malaysia’s Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin in the quarter-finals on Thursday, Joko said: “He is 19 years old and very energetic. His shots are accurate though, at time, this young blood is impatient. He has been with us for two-and-a-half years and we hope to see him rise further.”
There was double joy for Indonesia when Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka also made it to the semi-finals with a 21-6, 21-8 win over Myanmar’s Kyi Min Aung.
On Friday, Dionysius will take on top seed and World Championships bronze medallist Nguyen Tien Minh of Vietnam while his younger compatriot Wisnu will face second seed Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk of Thailand.
If his players’ determination is anything to go by, Joko’s boys can make it an all-Indonesian affair and prove that their back-up players can deliver, too.
Indonesia have won the men’s singles gold in every edition since the 2003 Games in Vietnam.